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Inspiring Stories from Plano

The heart of our mission at VoyageDallas is to find the amazing souls that breathe life into our city. In the recent weeks we’ve had the privilege to connect with some of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s finest artists, creatives, entrepreneurs and rabble rousers and we can’t begin to express how impressed we are with our city’s incredibly deep talent pool. Check out the rising stars of Plano and surrounding areas below.

Priyanka Narwaria

I am where I am because of my family. Inspiration of owning a business came straight from my father. I learnt saving from Mom, my sister is like a lifeguard, my brother taught me being focused and most importantly how to whistle. Last but not least my husband pushed me to go one more step forward whenever I felt tired or doubted myself.  I was born and brought up in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. Started career very early when I was pursuing my undergraduate degree. I was tutoring kids, selling insurance, learnt cosmetology then started working as part time hair and make up artist. I got certified for “Vaani Certification ” training by All India Radio for Radio Jockey (RJ) worked at RJ. By education I have a bachelors of Science (B.SC) and Masters of Public Administration (MA) . I started my MBA in SCM (Supply Chain Management) (distance learning) but didn’t finish. I learnt a lot about skin care and hair care by attending different workshops by brands Artsitry, Lakme, L’Oréal! Tried those brands and also became a beauty and hair consultant. Started making a lot of connections and cool money. Read more>>

Jay Nicole

I started Glo Up Studio in 2018. I had just got out of corporate America working in the life and auto insurance industry. I knew that working for someone just wasn’t for me, and I had always done hair on the side. I went to cosmetology school right after graduating high school in 2012 and got pregnant with my son. So instead of going right into the hair industry from cosmetology school, which was the initial plan, I thought that corporate America would be best but quickly found out that it just wasn’t something that I was thrilled to go into every day. So that’s when I was introduced to salon suites, and how opening my own business wasn’t as hard as I thought it had to be.  Read more>>

Megan Fifer

My love for taking photos started when I was about 12. I used my little LG smartphone to take photos of anything I thought was pretty, from flowers in my neighborhood to public art downtown. I starting taking photos of people a little later. My cousin and I had little photoshoots at the park or in our backyards just for fun. We didn’t always post them anywhere, we just enjoyed taking photos together. I had my first proper photoshoot freshman year of high school. My friend is an equestrian so we went out to her barn to take photos with the horses. I was able to capture barrel racing action shots, posed portraits of her and her horse, and landscape photos of the barn and other farm animals. When I got home I downloaded and starting learning how to use editing software to prepare my first gallery. When I finally showed the finished product to my friend it made me so happy to see how much she loved the photos. I realized I not only loved the creative aspect of photography but also how it made my friends feel to see the photos I had taken for them.  Read more>>

Deron Hollis

I’m an entrepreneur from the small town of Monroe, La. You’ve probably never heard of my city because there is not much there besides the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM). I like to lead with this because even though my city is small and doesn’t have much, I will always be proud of where I’m from. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth and was never given guidance when it came to Credit, Financial literacy, or Wealth Building outside of working a 9-5 until I could retire. So, like everyone else, I graduated High School and went to college seeking a degree to better position myself for Employment. I attended one of the greatest HBCU’s in the country “Grambling State University” and received my degree in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University. This is where I learned how to run businesses and the importance of Credit and Financial literacy.  Read more>>

D’Ondra Shelton Okonofua

I was always in the kitchen with my mom…not necessarily participating but absorbing. When my mom was working, I would experiment and my father and brother were the “victims”. The more I experimented, the more I enjoyed the journey. Cupcakery was born of experiment and the desire to be self-sufficient, to be the inspiration for my daughter and soon-to-be children.  Read more>>

Diana Birdsall

When I was a kid, my family knew I was going to be a performer. I made them sit through countless original ‘plays’ daily…- and I use the term ‘plays’ VERY loosely. No surprise… I’m now a Voice Actor!  In High School, I took a Television course and fell in love with the whole process. I knew I wanted to go to Emerson College and got my bachelor’s in Television Production. I immediately got an editing job out of college and then joined Time Warner after that. As a Producer and did tons of Voice Over there straddling both my Creative Director job and adding my voiceover to a zillion commercials over 13 years.  I then realized I could actually make a living just doing the Voice Over part and dove headlong into the Pay to Play Audition market. I already had a microphone from doing so much voice-over work for Time Warner. Free to them but great training for me. I’m really very grateful for that.  As the next step on my path, I needed to build a Voice Over booth. I was so lucky to have a friend come and help me build a very small 4 x 4 x 6 booth in my office. It totally worked!. Read more>>

Brooke Borden

I officially launched Honey and Haven last November in 2020. At that time, I was a senior at the University of Oklahoma finishing up my degree in public relations and concurrently starting my first semester of graduate school. Like many of us, I found myself with a lot of unexpected free time on my hands at the start of 2020 and it made me slow down to think about some bigger goals I wanted to pursue. I had always loved fashion (despite going through a few bad style phases growing up). When I got to college, I became the friend whose closet was shopped in before every event by others. I noticed that I had a love for styling, and I was the one trusted to put a good outfit together. I had a gut feeling that I should start a clothing boutique…but I had no clue where to start.  I spent most of quarantine walking my dog, listening to business podcasts, and researching how to make this dream a reality. Google became my best friend and I spent months preparing to launch my boutique. I kept it a secret from everyone but my family. I wanted to make sure that if I even went through with this business, that it would be “perfect” when I was ready to tell the world.  Read more>>

Chastiny Lewis

I got my bachelor’s in English, concentrating in Creative Writing, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living, but I knew I wanted to write books somedayI quit my HR job in 2016 to write a novel. I knew I wanted to go in a different direction career-wise, but I didn’t know which, so I thought, “Why not do something I know I want to do in the meantime?” Over the course of a few months, I finished the first draft of a young adult fantasy novel and started to consider freelance writing and editing soon after that. Then I met with a former co-worker who used to freelance to pick her brain, and I decided this was something I wanted to pursue. My first networking event in Fort Worth the following month was where I met my first client! Since then, I’ve had the honor of working with clients on a wide variety of projects, from proofreading web copy to developing marketing campaign video scripts to editing and publishing a client’s manuscript on Amazon Kindle and formatting it for eBook. Major health issues have kept me from working as much as I’d like for several years, but I’ve healed a lot this year, and I’m excited to be at the point where I’m ready to take on new clients again.  Read more>>

Martha Gonzalez

It’s been an exciting and diverse professional journey!  My 1st step: 9 years as Business Process Reengineering Corporate Consultant and Interdisciplinary Team Leader.  2nd step: While pregnant with my first child, I decided to study Early Childhood Education, that decision marked the beginning of my transition from the Corporate World into Human Development.  3d Step: After the birth of my first baby, I directed a transitional corporate project, in which I hired an experienced Organization Development Consultant: Wow! After that experience, I decided what the next step in my career would be: Go back to school to get a Master’s on Human Development with a focus on person-centered Therapy (Carl Rogers).  4th Step: Through many experiences while in school for my Master’s, I decided to primarily focus on the Psychotherapeutic realm and got certified as a Gestalt Psychotherapist (Fritz Perls) which takes on Holistic and humanistic approach within therapy.  Read more>>

David Kim

David J. Kim is the co-founder and the strategic partner of Boba Republic, a milk tea cafe, whose first location opened in 2020 in Allen, Texas as well as a co-founder of Chingoo Properties, a small real estate investment firm based out of Houston, Texas in 2018.  Prior to focusing on his businesses full-time, David was the vice president for J.W. Entertainment (Jumping World), He helped oversee the expansion of the Texas-based indoor family entertainment center from seven locations to eleven locations across three states. Since joining the company in 2016, David has focused on streamlining and standardizing the store operations, increasing and implementing marketing efforts, enhancing the overall customer experience, and improving the employee retention rates.  Aside from working on his business ventures, David currently serves as the internal vice president on the international board of Lambda Phi Epsilon which is the largest Asian American-interest fraternity in North America. He hopes to enhance the college experience for Asian-Americans on college campuses by providing a platform for Asian American college students to become contributing leaders within their community. Read more>>

Lindsay Aguilar-Franco

I started spray tanning in 2013 when I managed a tanning salon in Florida. I knew that I one day wanted to start my own business, but that dream got pushed to the side when I became a mom. I’m a mom of four and it seemed as if a stay-at-home mom was all I would ever be. It wasn’t until my husband lost his job and we were on the verge of losing everything that I felt like God spoke to me and told me to start my spray tanning business to help provide for my family. I used the last bit on my credit card to start my business and haven’t looked back.  Read more>>

Chico Morales

I would like to give God the glory for this opportunity. Growing up, I was a member at the Boys & Girls Club in Plano. That is where my love for sports derived (Football & Basketball). That grew all the way into middle school and high school where I started to focus more on basketball. I played at Plano East High School, where our senior year (2013) we went 30-6, undefeated in district, & finished ranked 3rd in Texas. After high school, I had the opportunity to attend, at the time a Division II School, Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. A national powerhouse in basketball led by legendary Coach Lonn Reisman. During my time at Tarleton State, we made it to the final four (2015) & Elite Eight (2016) in the Division II NCAA Tournament. During my time at Tarleton, I met my wife, Kassandra, whose support I am forever grateful for.  Read more>>

Ethan Strait

Photography really started off as a hobby like a lot of others. Mostly I walked around as a teenager with my Canon Powershot just taking photos of random things, I thought was interesting in a small town. After exposure to newly forming social media at the time, there was plenty of inspirational ideas to try and emulate my own way. I had no clue what I was doing. I just made a lot of mistakes and tried to understand it along the way. Eventually, I got a newer, better camera, went to college, met new people. I did what always did, just took photos of stuff and people I thought were interesting. Once I got more comfortable and knowledgeable about what I was doing I really only wanted to observe and document everything I was seeing. Being in my 20s, there was new music to experience, cities to visit, and an unlimited amount of people to encounter in all these new places. Read more>>

Tyshae Johnson

I’m originally from Los Angeles, California. I was raised an only child by my mother, who had me at 17 years old. Most can agree that becoming a teen parent presents its struggles. Growing up in the inner city, I was exposed to substance abuse, violence, and other negative influences. Now having a child of my own, I feel my mother did the best she could, considering the circumstance. However, I am grateful for God’s grace and the support of family that played a role in guiding, protecting, and loving me. This is why I am a strong believer in, “It takes a village to raise a child.” No one parent can do it alone. I have always been a very cautious-spirited person, so behavior problems weren’t an issue for me. However, throughout my adolescent and teen years, I was extremely self-conscious and insecure about my body image. Being tall and skinny, I often felt uncomfortable in my skin. I recall being on the volleyball team in junior high. Read more>>

Kristi Meenan

Many of you have asked how I got into this business of writing resumes and helping job seekers. So glad you asked!  I have always loved to write. My first writing “gig” was in the 2nd grade. I was named Editor of the first school newspaper.  Years later I pursued a Journalism degree at Texas A&M, dabbled in print and television production, and then accepted a job as On-Air talent at a classic rock radio station. If you follow me, you know my insane love of music — that’s probably where it all started.  After graduation, I moved to Dallas and went to work for a few well-known companies like Eastman Kodak, Zale Corporation, and JCPenney. I got married, had two amazing kids, and spent time doing the mom thing. Like many other moms, the time finally came when I was ready to re-enter the workplace and build my credentials. Read more>>

Colette Spirer

I am born and raised in Dallas, TX and attended Plano West High School. I grew up going to Disney every year of my life since I was just three years old. We would go for two weeks at a time and I would STILL cry when we would leave. It was truly our happy place. On top of my love and wonderful memories with Disney, I was also a dancer/performer. I had been serious about pursuing a career in the entertainment industry since I was about 14/15. At the time I was dancing in a pre-professional company and dedicated all my time to my craft. I was accepted and studied at one of the top five dance schools, Oklahoma City, University, and graduated with a degree in dance performance. During my junior year of college, I was starting to think about what would be next and I knew I wanted to work for Disney. It sounded so magical to think I could say, “I work for the Walt Disney Company!” During my senior year, I flew to Orlando to audition for a role in entertainment, got the job on the spot, and the rest is history. Read more>>

Omolola Balogun

When I started dancing, I was three years old. I started by praise dancing at church and started my journey from there. I have always been in some sort of dance team since I was little and it has made my time worthwhile. I dabbled into cheerleading and gymnastics but dance had my heart. I was on the drill team in middle and high school for about six years. When I came to college, I looked into being a North Texas Dancer but for some reason, I was discouraged. I didn’t dance professionally for my first year of college. I was on the African Student Organization’s dance team, where I grew more and was once the dance coordinator. I ended up getting my minor in dance because I didn’t want all my technique and practice that I had to go to waste. Best decision of my life. I am always dancing everywhere which brings so much joy to my heart. I was making dance videos for fun and I was like I need to get more serious. I did have several dance gigs before covid-19 but it slowed down because of covid-19. Read more>>

Jose Salinas

Growing up children are easily influenced and tend to have aspirations that lean more toward fantasy than reality. I was not the average adolescent. At a young age I was traumatized and neglected by my mother. This forced me to mature faster and to always seek self-improvement. My financial stability has never been perfect however it encouraged me to work harder to earn my earnings. Somehow my harsh reality inspired me to work harder towards my goals. I am thankful for every adversity I’ve faced because I learned these lessons, through my hardships and the pain that I was able to endure. I was born in Mexico and raised there until I turned seven years old. At the age of seven, I was brought to the United States to escape the violence and poverty there. Until this day the haunting feeling of losing everything and everyone that I knew, still comes back to haunt me. Once I arrived in Texas, I knew nothing, I had to learn English and mature faster than I expected.  Read more>>

Kelly Newton

My Microblading Correction journey started a little over 5 years ago. So many women were walking around with the same patchy, discolored, and oddly shaped eyebrows, because everyone was getting microblading—a technique that essentially cuts into the skin and implants pigment into the cuts, destroying your face with permanent scar tissue.  So, what do you do? The options were not that great either. Most microbladers have no experience before calling themselves an “Artist” after taking a one-day course online and buying a set of blades on Amazon. It’s scary when you think about that.  More often than not, microblading doesn’t achieve desirable results. And it quickly fades into a blurry/smeared mess forcing you to get regular touch-ups that only make things worse and are more difficult to correct. Yet, microblading continues to be branded as the latest way to get “carefree natural-looking eyebrows”, which still makes me laugh because microblading is not new. In fact, it started in Asia about 25 years ago and only became popular recently here in the United States.  Read more>>

Michelle Walston

My story is probably similar to a lot of people out there. I first started photography as a hobby in high school. I found myself taking pictures of landscapes, old building, and anything that caught my eye outdoors. After high school I started bringing my camera to the church I was attending at the time and took pictures of events, baptisms, and other church functions. I never really thought about photography as a career even then, it was just something I loved doing. Shortly after posting my pictures on the church’s social media, I had close friends interested in me taking pictures for them.  That’s how it all started with me branching off into the professional world of photography. I had no clue I would be where I am today. All my work was strictly word of mouth because I had a full-time job and I just didn’t have the time to advertise and I was trying to keep the workload light so it didn’t interfere with my other job. Read more>>

Jared Tye

I am a native of North Texas. I have a wife, two boys, and two dogs. I like to go running and play guitar and sing. We also enjoy real estate investing. We recently bought a 100-year-old commercial building in Historic Downtown McKinney.  I was a mortgage loan officer for 12 years. I moved to real estate 3 years ago. By the Grace of God, we have been able to help a great number of families. I have partnered with other agents for a while but this summer we started an official team. We love what we do.  Read more>>

Melissa Graf

I am a European from Interlaken, Switzerland, a small resort town offering spectacular mountain scenery and lakefront beauty. It is located in the German-speaking part of the country, although I spent much of my childhood in French-speaking Lausanne, the International Olympic Capital.  I was lucky enough to be raised with a healthy & balanced Swiss lifestyle. I moved to the United States a couple of years ago. Due to my origins and my professional path, natural health care has been a significant part of my life since I was a child and beauty since I was a young adult. However, it was when I began living in Texas I was introduced to and then became heavily involved in wellness, massage therapy, and aesthetics.  Read more>>

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